Balzac's Apartment

Monday, November 16, 1840, Balzac announces to Madame Hanska:

“Starting from the moment you receive this letter, write to me at the following address: M. de Breugnol, rue Basse, n. 19 in Passy, near Paris. I am there, hidden for some time….It was necessary to move very nimbly and tuck myself away where I am now.”

For the house on the rue des Batailles, in Chaillot, occupied from 1835 to 1838, he had used the feminine pseudonym “Widow Durand”; after 1840, he becomes “Monsieur de Breugnol.” The lease for Balzac’s apartment is settled October 1, 1840, by “Etienne Désirée Grandemain, landlord living in Passy, rue Basse, n. 19” to “Mademoiselle Philiberte Louise Breugnol Desraux living in Paris, rue de Navarin n. 31.”

The lease is unclear on the state of the apartment at the time of its leasing. According to Balzac’s later letters, it was necessary to do some repairs and to spend 1000 francs to make it habitable. The sum would be added to the yearly rent of 650 francs. The given description is as follows:

“An apartment situated in a house...rue Basse n. 19 and rue du Roc n. 5 in Passy, having entrances on both streets. The apartment in question composed of a dining room which one enters by the house’s lower court situated rue Basse n. 19 lit by the court overlooking rue du Roc, including three adjacent rooms lit by five windows overlooking the garden and one window on the rue du Roc with salon, bedroom and office, with a kitchen and a room across from the dining room, three offices, hallway, the kitchen having an exit into a hallway overlooking rue du Roc plus a cellar and a garden adjoining the apartment in question and which can be accessed by a windowed door of the salon, the garden in question is surrounded by trellises and overlooks the rue du Roc.”